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beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Backups lesson
Backups lesson
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387 posts
Aug 10, 2018
6:57 PM
Stupid is as stupid does.... played a ‘gig’ tonight with my little group, for the Clayton (New York) antique show. We’ve been the background music for four years now. Play a mix of blues, Americana, Dead, originals. We are in the Thousand Islands and do maybe four of these a summer. But, to the point, one of the originals is in E. “Green Grass”, a St Lawrence River song by a St. Lawrence river rat. Five blow on my E locked up. I’d left my (few) back-ups on the boat — why would I need those...— and, actually, don’t have a backup E here anyway. A novice error by someone who should know better. Take a lesson you novices. I’ll be ordering from Rockin Ron’s tomorrow.
Not sure what the next lesson will be, only sure that there will be one.

Phil Pennington
5545 posts
Aug 10, 2018
10:08 PM
It’s a good point Fil. Always good to have a backup.

But what can you do when caught out, apart from simply sitting out?

The obvious thing is to try a different position. Easy to say of course. But it can sometimes be done.
If you needed an E, maybe the band were in B?
A B harp is probably not highly likely but an A harp in 3rd might be just the ticket.
I’m not sure I could get away with it, but maybe.

Oh, but your band was in E and you’re in 1st position. Hmm. That might be tricky.

Last Edited by SuperBee on Aug 10, 2018 10:11 PM
2573 posts
Aug 11, 2018
4:49 AM
According to Little Walter's bio, one of the things noted about him was the ability to play around broken notes on a harp - so you could adopt the behaviours of successful people (as the self-help books say) :)
5546 posts
Aug 11, 2018
7:27 AM
I heard Mitch Kashmar demonstrate playing around a note. He made it sound pretty good, jumping around the 3rd. He couldn’t play the 3rd because it wasn’t there. It meant he had to play broken licks, couldn’t glis up from the root or back to the root, but he kept referring back to the root, deliberately jumping across the 3rd and kind of emphasising it’s absence by playing the other chord tones and then later giving us the 3rd in a different octave. He’d play root, Octave, root 7, root, 5 root sort of thing. Pretty good exercise for learning now I think of it. I’ll give that a whirl in the morning.
388 posts
Aug 11, 2018
8:05 PM
Yup. First position. On an earlier first position song in E, when the reed stuck, I ended up working as best I could above it. I called my wife, who hadn’t left the boat yet and asked her to bring the tools. At break I took the covers off and cleaned and gapped it. It had been fine when checked that morning. There’s the next lesson...bring the tool kit.
I think I will experiment with playing around notes also. It’s bound to happen again some time.
MTG, every time I pick up a harp I’m trying to adopt the ‘behaviors’ of successful people.... :>)
Phil Pennington

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